Surgical instrument sets were relatively simple during the early part of the
1800's because the 'surgeons' procedures were basic and only involved
'heroic' attempts to save a life. Surgery as we consider it today did
not exist until the 1850's in centers of higher learning in cities like New
York and Philadelphia. Instruments were more simple and less numerous in the sets.
As we approach the Civil War era, surgical procedures become more
sophisticated and the medical textbooks reflect this progress.
1870 is when sterilization
began and cased sets changed drastically afterwards to allow for
sterilization of the various parts of the instruments. After 1890, the
handles of the instruments were no longer made of ivory, wood, or other porous
materials that could not stand up to chemical and heat treatments, thus
the trend to use all metal instruments after that point in America.
This collection and website, by Dr. Michael Echols, centers on the Civil War
era prior to sterilization
is organized to help
Civil War medical collectors, both new and experienced. Advice
and information is offered in a non-threatening and friendly manner
in hopes of furthering the distribution of our knowledge.
Surgical set identification and related